Plot: This mystery-thriller about an addict in hot water offers an entertaining blend of dark humor and high stakes action. The cycle of Bobby's debauchery followed by confessional Addicts Anonymous meetings begin to wear thin, and the tone can shift unevenly between drug addled anecdotes and serious commentary. However, Swamp has a knack for keeping readers invested.
Prose: Swamp's prose, while at times hamfisted in its descriptions, feaures organic dialogue and forward momentom. The cynical tone of Swamp's narrative slowly builds its way to hopefulness.
Originality: Swamp offers some genuinely intriguing twists on a familiar storyline with an underdog hero who must curtail his wildly self destructive tendencies when a loved one is in danger.
Character Development: To the author's credit, Bobby is an exasperating and pathetic loser who is, ultimately, rather loveable. Though some aspects of Bobby's progression strain believability, his rock bottom to redemption story is a gratifying one.
Date Submitted: June 07, 2017
Blackout: The Life and Sordid Times of Bobby Travis
While a true-life story inspired the creation of Blackout: The Life and Sordid Times of Bobby Travis, it is not an autobiographical presentation but a fictionalized dramatization of events, and follows a character who blacks out repeatedly in the course of his life. This serves as a constant 'reset' button to his life. As author Edgar Swamp began wondering about how life would be if blackouts were a regular occurrence, he gained the idea for this story.
The protagonist, Bobby, is an addict. If he's not in a stupor, he's questioning what just happened, facing unfathomable gaps in his memory and life. He's working on shaking free of the binges which create this kind of life for the sake of his daughter and in the interests of being a better father to her; but before he can make any real changes, he becomes tangled up with a Mexican drug cartel which kidnaps his beloved daughter and forces him on a path that AA and other recovery groups couldn't match.
Suddenly he has a big reason for conquering his addictions and quashing his blackouts - and it involves life or death and a complicated arrangement to trade one life for another. The problem comes back to his blackouts, however, which continue to complicate matters.
Executioners, mob members and big money, the long-range impacts of a lack of recollection, and gambling and drug issues plague Bobby's life as much as his freestyling ride through hoaxes, realities, and a sudden singular determination to rescue his daughter - an impulse which overrides many of his self-destructive habits.
Readers who appreciate stories of addiction and recovery, tales of international intrigue and kidnappings, and investigative pieces that focus as much on interpersonal relationships and recovery processes as on the events which challenge a stagnated life will find that the psychological depth in Blackout is exquisitely done.
The fact that Bobby's life, associations with others, and options change in response to the special challenges around him adds to a thought-provoking series of encounters that revolve around fear, hard choices, and deadly consequences.
Enthusiasts of thrillers and investigative pieces will find a strange sort of hero in the form of Bobby, who might be juggling too many challenges to save the one thing he loves in life. Addicted and alone, Bobby's confrontation of many forms of demons is well done and engrossing right up to a showdown that questions the humanity in evil actions and the events that lure him from the drunk tank (his home away from home) to a transformative, life-affirming experience.
Readers of the type of suspense which involves social inspection and personal growth will relish Bobby's journey and the elements that finally bring him peace.